All thoroughbred horses descend from one of three Arabian stallions brought from the Middle East to England between 1689 and 1730. Famous for their stamina, the Arabians begat a breed able to sustain speed over extended distances. Later, thoroughbreds were crossed to create other breeds meant for sport. Below, a few branches of their sprawling family tree. BY GENE MENEZ
Named for Capt. Robert Byerley, who captured the horse from the Turks in 1688. He was the captain's mount in the Battle of Boyne in 1690.
Bought from a Syrian tribe by consul Thomas Darley in 1704. Sired, among many others, Bulle Rock, the first thoroughbred brought to the U.S.
Brought to Paris then to England in about 1730 by Edward Coake, then acquired by the Earl of Godolphin, who put him to stud.